The Supreme Court of the United States Rejects California’s  Immunity Claims Involving Covid-19 Deaths At San Quentin Prison

 (May 17, 2024) – The United States Supreme Court has rejected a critical argument for immunity by California after Covid-19 deaths at San Quentin Rehabilitation Center.

The U.S. Supreme Court denied the appeal on Monday. San Quentin Rehabilitation Center was facing claims that it acted with deliberate indifference after several inmates contracted Covid-19 and died at the prison.

The lawsuits claim that the outbreak, which quickly sickened 75% of inmates, stemmed from the transfer of infected inmates to the prison. Lawyers for the plaintiffs have said that the prison ignored virtually all safety measures when it made the transfers.

Lawyers for the state have maintained that prison officials took the necessary steps to protect inmates from infection. The Supreme Court justices turned down the appeal of the state without comment or dissent.


Liability For Inmate Deaths Due to Covid-19

When the pandemic began, prisons often had some of the worst outbreaks of Covid-19. According to USA Facts, “From March 2020 to February 2021, nearly 2,500 incarcerated people in state and federal prisons died of COVID-19, according to data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. This translates to a death rate of about 1.5 deaths per 1,000 incarcerated people from the virus.” There are a number of steps that prisons should take in order to reduce the spread of infectious diseases.

  • Prisons should conduct regular health screenings of current inmates.
  • Prisons should conduct health screenings on inmates before they are transferred.
  • Prisons should maintain high standards for cleanliness in all areas.

All jails have a legal obligation to provide their inmates with adequate healthcare. This includes taking reasonable steps to protect them from infectious diseases. If a jail is deliberately indifferent to the serious health needs of an inmate, this could form the basis of a constitutional claim. It is important that evidence is properly preserved after any inmate’s death.

  • Medical records should be preserved.
  • The cause of death should be determined.
  • An independent autopsy may need to be performed.
  • An experienced civil rights attorney should be contacted.

Inmate deaths are often highly preventable. There is typically no single factor that contributes to any inmate’s death. Rather, it is much more common that several factors will contribute to a death. For example, this may include overcrowding within a jail that leads to viral outbreaks. Overcrowding can also impact the quality of care that all inmates receive.


Getting Legal Help After Covid-19 Inmate Deaths 

We at the Sehat Law Firm extend our deepest condolences to the families of all of the people who lost someone at the San Quentin Rehabilitation Center. This prison needs to be held accountable for the outbreak that left many inmates dead. It is our sincere hope that steps are taken to prevent other tragedies like this.

Do you need more information about an inmate death at the San Quentin Rehabilitation Center? Our team of civil rights attorneys is here to answer any questions that you may have. We care deeply that inmates are aware of their rights and that those rights are being protected. You can reach out to us anytime at (949) 825-5200.



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